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Thread: Potty mishaps - is Maya sick?

  1. #1
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    Question Potty mishaps - is Maya sick?

    Hi. I'm wondering if my little Maya is sick or just misbehaving. She just turned 2 on Friday and do dogs have the terrible 2s at human age 2? She is litter trained and this a.m. she went poo in her litter, then another was outside her litter and another a few steps away. I took that as just a mishap... she thought she was done but wasn't. Then later this afternoon, she did the same thing in her litter box downstairs... one in, another just out side. Again, mishap. But it appears she also decide to wee on the rug, in an ENTIRELY different room, nowhere near the litter box. That wasn't a missed the box... that was decided to wee right here!

    Does anyone know what might cause this behavior? She hasn't had an accident in a year and now 3 in one day...
    ALE
    (Maya is my girl!)

  2. #2
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    My dogs tend to have a wander while pooing, its never all in the one place. Dogs need a lot of space for doing their business they like to sniff about till they feel they have found the right place. I dont know how your little dog can poo in a litter tray without stepping in its own poo and wee. I think the reason she wee'd on the rug is because she had already used the tray and didnt want to walk in it ! Is there a reason she cant go outside or go on a walk to do her business?
    It doesnt seem quite right to me to train a dog to use a tray all the time, they are very different to cats.
    There is nothing wrong with Maya she is just doing what dogs do, she isnt a cat. All I can say is take her for walks or let her in a garden- if possible.
    Last edited by karenc; 17th June 2008 at 08:24 AM.
    Karen and the gang

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  3. #3
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    No, she is not a toddler in dog terms -- she is an adult, the equivalent of a person around 20 at her age (the 7 year/dog year thing isn't really that accurate). Dogs have housetraining problems for a reason. Either they weren't fully trained to start with (which isn't your case), or there is a physical problem -- eg medical -- or a behavioural issue causing it. By behavioural I do NOT mean she is *in any way misbehaving* -- it means something has changed in her environment, meaning her food, her home, time she gets with family, new arrivals (dog or human), changed furnishings, could be anything -- that makes her anxious and prompts this behaviour -- I would guess a strong possibility is as she has matured into an adult and also goes outside, she just doesn't care to go in a small litterbox (see below), which is probably also too small, if you use a cat tray (cats are half the size of most cavaliers). For dogs, defecation marks a place as their territory and is comforting -- it isn't something they do to mess up their environment, for example.

    But the starting point should always be -- get her to a vet. You need to remove all possible medical causes -- some of which can be urgent and serious. Always, always, when behaviour changes or unusual symptoms show, at the very least call your vet for advice on whether or not to bring the dog in. Vets will give appropriate advice. Then once you are assured it isn't medical, examine what has possibly changed in your house. If her toiletting has changed you may need to do remedial work -- eg NO punishment, which can actually increase her tendency to hold i and go inside. Use rewards and go back to taking her out, supervised, at regular intervals and do not leave her out of your sight where she can go unseen.

    I have always heard very mixed results with litter training dogs and in general this approach works better with very small toy breeds, not a dog the size of a cavalier -- and I would bet this is your (NOT Maya's!) problem. It probably works better with puppies but wouldn't really be a normal behaviour for dogs and you'd need to provide a very LARGE tray -- probably something more like a small kid's sandbox in size. She may have just ceased to associate the litter box as where she has to go. That means you will need to housetrain all over, with a larger box -- or move her towards going outside (an adult dog can hold herself during the day for several hours -- if no one is home with her for so many hours, day and night, that you must use a litter box, I would seriously question whether this is the best living situation for a dog -- any dog -- and if she is indeed left alone for huge periods, that is probably causing the problem as well. This is a very social breed amongst an animal that is already very social, and being alone all day with no companionship, no human interaction, would be pretty mentally devastating for a cavalier, so maybe adjusting her life and yours so they intersect more would be the best approach, or get her to doggie dayvcare during the day so she has something going in in her life. If someone is there during the day/evening, and she just sometimes goes inside, and sometimes outside (which is probably the case?), she may just no longer separate going in the litter box from going outside the house (eg outside the litter box) as being any different from in the house. Maybe the box is too small and makes her uncomfortable. Most litter boxes designed for cats -- which are a lot smaller than cavaliers generally -- would really be very small spaces for dogs to manouevre and she may just be tired of using one? My guess is that it is actually having to use a litter box -- and perhaps whether someone is there -- that is the issue.

    PS I do not have garden and have to walk my dogs daily for their toiletting. On average they get 3-4 walks daily for this. It isn't a major issue to get them out at such intervals. For two of those trips out I tend to only go up to the corner for them to wee, not a full walk. It is quite easy to manage toiletting outside even in an indoor living situation with no garden.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the responses. To be clear, Maya does go in a dog litter box, not a cat litter box. I bought them at PetSmart.

    I don't let her outside on her own because she spends most of her time eating grass (and then getting sick that night) AND I've heard of coyotes eating small dogs and rattlesnakes in the fenced backyards in our neighborhood. The last thing I want is her hurt in her own backyard... but since I'm on the phone so often for work, I can't be out there with her a lot. I take her on a long morning walk so that she gets her exercise...

    I'll take her to the vet and will see if she and I can work a compromise on the outside time.
    ALE
    (Maya is my girl!)

  5. #5
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    If you are at home for workanyway, and as she is now well into adulthood, maybe it would be as easy -- or easier (and far better for her, in terms of some mental stimulation), to just go outside so she can go? I also work on the phone throughout the day at home, and like you, would never allow my dogs to be outside unsupervised in a garden either (if I had one!), but they don't need to be outside alone -- they only need to go out about 4 times between waking and last thing at night; it really is quite easy to manage this and indeed is a nice break (for me) as well. After breakfast the next time out isn't til lunch, when I am making my meal and taking an hour off anyway, and the next time after that isn't until suppertime, again, after the workday. Then once more out before sleep. Everything stays outside, doesn't smell up the house etc, only an easy poop-scoop outside and no urine to deal with. At least one of those trips should be a proper walk but for toiletting it can take all of 3 minutes during the day. The dogs all clearly love the trip outside no matter how brief. Each outside break is a highlight of the day for them.

    Though you should discuss with a vet, I really think the issue is more behavioural and that the vet will likely say this -- first, that she is bored or stressed because maybe she isn't getting out enough anyway if she is inside all during the day (this is like keeping kids inside all the time -- for a dog, whose interaction with the world is primarily made up of scent, getting outside for breaks and walks and sniffing around, checking out plants and walls, etc, is major mental and emotional stimulation ) and second, that she just is not that happy using a litterbox. I know of very few people who have successfully kept a dog using a litterbox.
    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Jaspar Leo Lily Tansy Libby (foster) Mindy (foster)
    In memory: Lucy
    Cavalier SM Infosite:www.smcavaliers.com

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